Peruvian excursion no vacation for Western student
By Jeff Badger
A Western student has been selected to carry out research on development issues in Peru for the summer of 1997.
Jennifer Williams, a fourth-year anthropology and political science student, has been selected to participate in the World University Service of Canada's International Seminar to Peru from May 23 to July 1. Williams was one of 30 students from across the country who will be travelling to Peru to take part in the seminar.
"[The international seminar] allows students to have an in-depth cross-cultural experience in a developing country," said Lisa Pitre, seminar co-ordinator at WUSC.
The service is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering sustainable human development and human rights through education, training and research .
"Each student has their own research program that they will carry out during the one-month stay," Pitre said. "They will live in homestays with Peruvian families, interviewing people and specialists at the local university Universidad Nacional del Altiplano."
Students had to submit an application which outlined their proposal for a research program they would like to carry out. Williams' topic is subsistence strategies in the informal economy of rural Peru.
"Peru has a very strong informal economy. It is based on making a living for the individual," Williams said. This involves the selling of garments, beaded artwork, jewelry and other goods at rural markets.
"The problem is there are not a full number of people working in support of the government," Williams said. Her research will centre around solving this problem while maintaining the strengths of the informal economy.
Along with their proposal, applicants also had to submit an essay on why they are a good candidate for the seminar.
"A basis of commitment to the community is mandatory, especially in relation to developing issues," Pitre said.
For the past two years, Williams co-chaired the WUSC-local committee, a faction that is present in most areas of Canada with major universities. She has also volunteered at the London Museum of Archeology.
Williams said she wants to use the trip to apply her knowledge gained at Western. "[I am] hoping to come away from the experience with a greater understanding of the theory that I have learned over the past four years in my classes and a more comprehensive understanding of the reality of life in the region," she said.
Williams added she will not be returning to Canada with the rest of the students on July 1. She has elected to travel throughout various regions of South America to further enrich her experience while the opportunity is available.